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Evening markets: crops slapped by Italy crisis, dollar surge

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Hands up who thought the report was a touch negative for grain prices.

Thank you Benson Quinn Commodities and GrainAnalyst.com among others.

Hands up who thought the US Department of Agriculture's latest Wasde briefing was at least neutral-to-bullish for

corn

.

Thanks Societe Generale and Rabobank.

Hands up for "rather bullish" corn, Offre & Demande Agricole, "certainly supportive" for the grain, Country Futures, or "positive", US Commodities.

Italian crisis

With that straw poll spread of opinion on estimates in a key monthly crop briefing, it was hardly surprising corn futures meandered around in Chicago.

Especially against a background of collapsing confidence in Italy's finances, sending yields on its 10-year bonds to a record 7.48%.

Furthermore, its yield curve inverted, with five year bonds yielding 7.6%, typically a sign that investors have raised default as a serious option.

The

euro

collapsed 2%, the

dollar

stood 1.7% higher against a basket of currencies as of 21:00 GMT, reducing the affordability of dollar-denominated assets for those willing to brave the macroeconomic uncertainty.

Feed downgrade

Corn's answer was to close slap bang in the middle of the day's trading range, at $6.56 a bushel for December delivery, down 0.7% on the day.

Given the circumstances, that looked a reflection that the bullish interpretation had won out of a bigger than expected trim to USDA estimates for the US corn harvest (but only by an extra 80m bushels or so) but larger forecast for carryout stocks too.

(It was a, controversial, 100m-bushel knock to the estimate for US feed use which squared this circle.)

Many other crops found even getting this close to positive territory a struggle - one notable exception being Paris

wheat

which, encouraged by the tumbling euro, ended up 0.3% at E188.00 a tonne for the best-traded January contract.

(How that helps the competitiveness of French wheat we may know on Thursday, when Egypt reveals the results of its latest wheat tender, launched after Chicago's close.)

'Plenty of wheat'

Minneapolis hard red spring wheat ended higher too, up 0.6% at $9.51 ¾ a bushel for December, supported by a cut of 29m bushels, to 129m bushels, in the USDA's estimate for end 2011-12 US inventories of the grain, following a resurvey of northern states.

But other wheat contracts struggled, fighting a nudge upwards, of 200,000 tonnes, in the USDA's estimate for world inventories to a 10-year high of 202.6m tonnes.

"There is still plenty of wheat in the world, which will cap rallies," Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said.

Chicago soft red winter wheat for December shed 2.1% to $6.43 a bushel, while Kansas hard red winter wheat for the same month tumbled 3.5% to $7.13 a bushel.

US vs Brazil

Soybeans

did better than that.

But, wounded by a 50m-bushel cut by the USDA to its estimate for domestic exports of the oilseed in 2011-12, which will drag the US behind Brazil in the soybean export league, the January lot dropped 1.6% to $11.85 ½ a bushel.

The expiring November lot closed down 1.6% at a one-month low.

New York

cotton

limited its decline to 0.5%, taking it to a close at 97.18 cents a pound for December, helped by limited Wasde changes.

"The Wasde was largely neutral for cotton, as the USDA failed to surprise, with only small changes to the numbers reported in October," Rabobank said.

'Struggle to make headway'

That was better too than managed by many other soft commodities, which do not feel the pull of the Wasde, leaving investors to focus full on the jump in the dollar.

Cocoa

, suffering weak fundamentals, with a second successive world surplus expected in 2011-12, suffered worst, tumbling 3.5% to $2,570 a tonne for December.

While a roll out of the near contract into further away ones helped the March lot, it was not much help, with that contract losing 3.2% to $2,603 a tonne.

New York raw sugar slid 2.1% to 25.36 cents a pound for March.

"All in all, the markets have possibly been encouraged by the bounce off yesterday's lows, but it also seems that they will struggle to make headway in these uncertain macro conditions," Nick Penney at Sucden Financial said.

By Agrimoney.com

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